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No BS project comms for teams of teams

We’re all wasting time talking about work when we could be working. That’s because there’s no consistent, easy way to communicate across teams. Until now.

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Quote mark

The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue.

Malala Yousafzai

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2014

We’ve created a system of communication for modern work. 

For all the effort that has gone into creating Agile rituals for intra-team comms and Design thinking rituals for customer comms, it’s shocking how little thought has gone into designing a better system of communication across teams. Team-to-team communication is not taught, not valued and often gets a bad rap as “status reporting.” Welcome to the new world of status reporting that looks and feels nothing like a color-coded, cluster of a spreadsheet.

The Loop is for forward-thinking teams who are tired of getting blindsided by feedback the day before their deadline. It’s for teams who have the courage to be vulnerable. Teams who are willing to admit what they don’t know and get started anyways. And it’s for teams who believe that opening up their work, warts and all, will make them a stronger team, more reliable project partners and set a better example for effective communication across their organization.

introducing THE PRINCIPAL LOOP BELIEFS
Open your WIP
Open your WIP

Open up your work in progress

Avoid after-the-fact advice by sharing your work-in-progress for feedback early and often. By operating openly, you’ll avoid “unknown unknowns” before they become insurmountable roadblocks.

Open up your work in progress

Avoid after-the-fact advice by sharing your work-in-progress for feedback early and often. By operating openly, you’ll avoid “unknown unknowns” before they become insurmountable roadblocks.

Letter C
Letter C

Curate, don’t automate

Information overload does not have to paralyze your project. Get and give just the right amount of data and details so your stakeholders stay in the loop and your work gets noticed.

Curate, don’t automate

Information overload does not have to paralyze your project. Get and give just the right amount of data and details so your stakeholders stay in the loop and your work gets noticed.

Vocab
Vocab

Common vocabulary over common tooling

Whether we know it or not, every time we communicate we make comprehension and speed trade-offs. Guess what, we can do both if we all start speaking the same project language.

Common vocabulary over common tooling

Whether we know it or not, every time we communicate we make comprehension and speed trade-offs. Guess what, we can do both if we all start speaking the same project language.

Show your attention
Show your attention

Show that you’re paying attention

We spend too much time on status reports for them not to be read. What might it look like to spend less time writing, reading and responding to updates?

Show that you’re paying attention

We spend too much time on status reports for them not to be read. What might it look like to spend less time writing, reading and responding to updates?

Explore the rituals
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Wavy background
Wavy background
Wavy background
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Wavy background
1.0 – OPEN UP YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS
Folding page to bookmark it with caption: door to door delivery
Folding page to bookmark it with caption: door to door delivery
RITUAL

Make your updates followable

Most people feel more in tune with the goings on of strangers on social media than they do the projects happening in adjacent departments. By sharing our project updates as easily and delightfully as we share our life updates on social media, we can open up the early phases of our projects to get input from the right experts at the right time.

Techniques

1.1 – Create reference-able handles


1.2 – Open up comments & questions (avoid 1:1 messages)


1.3 – Distribute updates in channels where teams live

2.0 – CURATE, DON’T AUTOMATE
Throwing paper airplane with caption: hot off the press
Throwing paper airplane with caption: hot off the press
RITUAL

Write a weekly status update

Even if the world may not feel predictable, communication should be. Eliminate one stressor of inter-team relationships by committing to writing updates every Friday so every related team starts their week with the context they need.

Techniques

2.1 – Character constrain your updates


2.2 – Update async, spar in real time


2.3 – Balance qualitative + quantitative

3.0 – COMMON VOCAB OVER COMMON TOOLING
Clinking coffee mugs with caption: start the day right
Clinking coffee mugs with caption: start the day right
RITUAL

Answer the same foundational questions for all projects

Empowering teams requires the right balance of structure and freedom. Giving teams a template for communicating project status outwardly will enable them to communicate effectively across teams without getting in the way of optimizing their intra-team workflow to meet their individual needs.

Techniques

3.1 – Define your project’s what, why & how


3.2 – Agree on “what is a project” and phases


3.3 – Define your status markers (On Track (green), At Risk (yellow), Off Track (red))

4.0 – SHOW THAT YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION
Hands clapping with caption: you got this
Hands clapping with caption: you got this
RITUAL

Acknowlege weekly updates

Why wait to share updates and give feedback until you calendar tetris allows you to schedule a meeting? We find the best feedback loops are fast, efficient and frequent. This means updates are brief and consistent and so is the feedback.

PLAYS

4.1 – Level your feedback in line with phase/fidelity


4.2 – Create a read receipts mechanism


4.3 – Follow relevant projects & celebrate wins together

5.0 – Aim for an outcome
Coming soon
6.0 – Change dates and change often
Coming soon
7.0 – Work owners own comms
Coming soon
8.0 – Celebrate often
Coming soon

FAQs

Do I have to follow every belief for my team to benefit? Show +

Nope, pick and choose what resonates with your team and make it your own. Feel free to add your own beliefs, rituals or techniques or adjust the ones we’ve written to reflect your team’s culture.

How does this framework work with other frameworks like OKR and Agile? Show +

The Loop is designed to complement existing frameworks for effective teamwork. For example, Agile rituals like standups are great rituals for intra-team comms that help bring to light key milestones or challenges you may want to surface in your weekly inter-team update. We also find it is helpful to reference your past four weekly updates to help you write your monthly Key Result score if you follow the OKR goal-setting framework.

Do I need to have a special tool to use this framework? Show +

This framework is designed to be tool agnostic. You can use e-mail, spreadsheets, presentations, chat, meetings; whatever fits into your current workflow (and budget!). In full transparency, Atlassian uses our own product, Team Central, to follow these rituals internally.

How do we prevent a culture of sugarcoating? Show +

How much time do you have? This is a tough one. If this is your company’s chief challenge, start with the belief, Open up your WIP. There is a great deal of compelling research being done on the benefits of vulnerability in the workplace, however we acknowledge that research is not enough to create change. Consider modeling vulnerability yourself or gathering a group of like-minded individuals across your organization to kickstart your cause. Ask your group of change makers to commit to calling out the anti-pattern of sugar-coating when you see it and celebrating and modeling vulnerability consistently for others to follow.

Why do I have to communicate project updates, can’t my work speak for itself? Show +

Writing weekly updates can feel like extra work, but we’ve actually found that by proactively sharing progress, we create less work for ourselves and our teams. We’ve found project owners who invest time in weekly updates benefitted from more stakeholder support, less last minute surprises and spent less time repeating themselves in meetings and messages.

Who created this framework? Show +

This framework is written by teams at Atlassian who have been testing this ritual since 2015. We were originally inspired by studying the project communication practices at companies like Shopify, Facebook and Canva and have continued consulting large and small companies alike to refine and iterate our ways of working.